As Important as Rice: Arteta Must Drop Gabriel Jesus & Unleash Arsenal’s “Machine” vs Chelsea

Arsenal have the chance to capitalise on their impressive 2-0 victory on the road against Wolverhampton Wanderers, as they prepare to host Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium midweek.

In their previous encounter this season, the match ended in a 2-2 draw after Mikel Arteta’s team rallied from a two-goal deficit to secure a point.

As the title race enters its final stretch, tonight’s match is crucial for the Gunners, who cannot afford any missteps at this critical juncture.

Interestingly, it’s a former Chelsea player who may play a pivotal role in Arsenal’s quest for victory, as Gabriel Jesus is set to be omitted from the starting lineup.

Why Gabriel Jesus Should Be Dropped

There is little debate about the remarkable skill of the Brazilian forward on the football field. However, even for those who watch without bias, he can be a source of frustration.

Despite his talent, the 27-year-old has appeared in 23 matches in the Premier League this season, starting 17 times. Yet, his contribution of four goals and assists each is not particularly impressive for a team with such creativity and dominance.

The crux of Jesus’ issue lies in his lack of scoring prowess. He often squanders scoring opportunities, as evidenced by his seven missed big chances and his underperformance in expected goals (xG).

Furthermore, the striker has gone six league games without finding the back of the net. In the recent match against Wolves, he struggled to position himself dangerously, resulting in an xG of 0.06.

Given these factors, it is imperative that he be relegated to the bench for the upcoming match.

The Player Who Should Replace Gabriel Jesus

Any footballer commanding a fee of £105m is almost certain to attract scrutiny, yet Declan Rice has admirably quashed any skepticism, underscoring his remarkable impact this season.

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Rice’s versatility is unquestionable, as demonstrated by his adeptness in various facets of the game. His tally of five key passes, four tackles, and four shots against Wolves serves as compelling evidence.

However, another pivotal figure in tonight’s match may well be Kai Havertz, who has flourished under the guidance of the Spaniard since departing Chelsea last summer.

With nine goals and five assists from 25 Premier League starts, the German not only poses a significant goal threat but also possesses the ability to craft opportunities for his teammates.

Havertz’s 23/24 PL Stats
Key passes per game1.1
Touches per game36.1
Duels won per game4.8
Balls recovered per game3.3
Via Sofascore

Havertz’s performance in the league this season demonstrates his versatility and ability to influence the game across various positions, making him a valuable asset for Mauricio Pochettino’s team.

One compelling argument for starting Havertz upfront is his adeptness at bridging the midfield and attack, consistently delivering 1.1 key passes per match. This facilitates opportunities for Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli to pose a threat to the opposition.

His impact in this role often manifests in two ways: either by dropping deeper to receive the ball and distribute it wide, or by winning crucial duels and recovering possession in the final third, thus applying pressure on the Chelsea players.

Moreover, Havertz’s ability to convert chances is evident from his performance closely matching his expected goals (xG) this season. Football scout Jacek Kulig describes him as a “machine,” highlighting his clinical finishing and imposing 6 foot 4 frame, which adds an aerial threat distinct from Jesus.

Deploying Havertz as a number nine allows Arteta to field Jorginho in the defensive midfield position and Rice as the left-sided number eight, bolstering Arsenal’s defensive solidity and dominance in possession.

Havertz’s inclusion in the lineup not only enhances goal-scoring opportunities but also elevates the performance of his teammates, underscoring his significance beyond individual statistics. Arsenal will face a formidable challenge in overcoming Chelsea with Havertz on the pitch.

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